Descended from wild cats, our domesticated kittens come with their fair share of personality quirks – it’s only natural!
Why do cats knead?
Kneading is when a cat rhythmically alternates pushing their paws against a soft surface, such as the sofa, a rug or your lap. Kneading is one of your kitten’s more peculiar behaviours that actually serves a number of important purposes for cats. Kneading begins virtually from day one, when a kitten kneads their mother’s teats to help stimulate milk production. While behaviour experts aren’t entirely certain what drives cats to knead beyond kittenhood, it’s widely thought they instinctively associate massaging a soft surface with the cosy comfort of a mother’s nurturing. Some adult cats even lick or suckle the surface they’re kneading. The belief is that kneading is both an expression of contentment and a self-soothing mechanism. Cats are thought to knead to help themselves relax and unwind.
Why do cats mark their territory?
Kittens make themselves at home by marking territory. You may see them rubbing their face and body repeatedly against your legs, walls, flooring and furniture to spread their scent. If a kitten is having trouble settling in, they may begin marking territory with urine instead of using the litter box. Kittens may be more likely to do this if they’re feeling anxious.
Why do cats purr?
It is generally accepted that purring is an emotional response for cats. A cat’s purr is one of the tools they use to express their feelings, particularly when they are feeling relaxed and happy. Cats also purr when they’re distressed, afraid or in pain, and even when giving birth, so it could be a self-soothing behaviour rather than exclusively a show of contentment. It’s probably a means of communication, too. Purring starts when kittens are just a few days old, leading some to speculate they’re “talking” to their mother and encouraging her to feed them.
Why do cats scratch?
Scratching and kneading is normal behaviour cats have inherited from their wild ancestors. You can manage your cat’s scratching and kneading by enriching their environment with accessories and toys. When our nails get too long we clip them with a nail clipper – a cat can’t do that. The feline solution for nails that are too long is to start scratching on something, as this is natural cat behaviour. The act of scratching removes the old nails and allows the new ones to emerge. To help protect your furniture, your cat will need a scratching post. Make sure it’s tall enough for them to stand up on their hind legs with a sturdy base so it won’t fall over. Ensure it’s covered in a tactile material, like carpet or sisal, there are even options with platforms and hidey-holes for play. Remember: the more fun you make it, the better chance it’ll be used for scratching, rather than your couch!